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According to spelling experts, it is very important that the learners of a secondary language should be equipped with the basic words as to be able to communicate effectively in that language. So, in as much as the learners should efficient in the spoken aspects, it is crucial and necessary that the words should be spelt correctly. This is where good spelling habit comes into spell means to name correctly in order, the letter that make up a word. However, to many students there are difficulties being encountered in this essential academic activity spelling. This is the focus of this research work. It has been established that really; students commit spelling errors for various reasons ranging from their own carelessness to inappropriate teaching methodology and environmental factors. In Nigeria, teachers should make students understand necessity of good spelling habits. Curriculum designers should designate appropriate time for spelling programme. This research work has therefore looked into the crucial issue of spelling errors. Through the teachers’ answers to the questions and the students’ performance in the test administered, it has been established that the problem of spelling errors actually exist among Nigerian secondary school students.



1.1      Background of the study

To spell means, to name in order, the letters of a word for instance T-W-O = two spelling is an academic activity. It is a skill which marks the learners with such scholarly qualities as intelligence, cultivated, neat, efficient and conscientious. NIn any human society, the need for a common language cannot be over-emphasized. No society can exist comfortably together if the members of such society cannot communicate effectively among themselves. In Nigeria, English language is the lingua – franca (the official language) The language of Government, businesses, education, law, politics religion, mass media and international communication. This is the inevitable situation because Nigerian is a multilingual society with many different ethnic groups such as Yoruba Edo, Igbo, Tiv, Hausa, and so on. Since it is only in English language that all these groups can communicate, we can realize the indispensable role which English plays in Nigeria. In a multilingual country like Nigeria, English language is considered as an essential tool in achieving effective communication. The use of English language for formal teaching and learning in Nigeria started when Britain became their colonial master (Sackey, 1997:126). He further explains that the teaching of English language started in schools where the language was learnt through “repeated readings of primers and spelling books”. As part of the British colonial policy during the colonial era, the indigenes of colonies of which Nigeria was not an exception were compelled to learn the language of the colonial master (that is; English language). As a result of this policy, English had so much power and as Sackey (1997:132) puts it, ‘without it, there could be no participation in the economic and political life. Also, Roberts (1996) explains that English Language has become a powerful language due to the fact that it has broken linguistic barriers to become a widely spoken international language particularly, as a second or foreign language. For this reason, even after colonial rule, Nigeria had to adopt English Language as an official language for formal education, the media, and for government and business purposes in the country For instance, the present education language policy states that with the exception of lower primary (classes one to three); English should be a medium of instruction at all levels. It is used in teaching subjects like mathematics, agricultural science, and science, amongst others. English Language is considered as one of the core subjects in Nigerian schools and also a prerequisite for entry into Senior High Schools and tertiary institutions. Thus, success in any form of formal education and training in highly skilled labour generally depends upon one’s ability to understand and use English Language effectively. However, a lot of individuals, particularly students, tend to commit avoidable errors in the use of the language; more worrying is when such errors are committed by students in their final examinations In Owusu-Ansah (2005)’s analysis of the Chief Examiner of WAEC’s report, concerning the Junior High School Certificate Examination between 1993 and 2003, he highlighted spelling errors as a major problem in written grammar of students. He opined that students’ inability to spell words correctly lead to the deduction of marks resulting in poor performance. Again, reports of Chief Examiners on the performance of students in WAEC from 2001 – 2010 also revealed spelling errors as the type of errors most students commit in their final examinations. These reports buttress the previous reports that highlighted spelling errors as being common in written grammar of students. The Chief Examiner’s Report on the 2008 Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E.) described the level of spelling during B.E.C.E. English papers especially, that of the year 2008 as “terrible”. For this reason, the report suggested that English Language teachers in basic schools should intensify “the good old practice of spelling drills” in all schools and encourage dictation of single words and short passages during language lessons. These he emphasized, “Will improve spelling” of student


This researcher is concerned with spelling errors among Nigeria secondary school students which no doubt affect their general performance in English language. Normally, whenever there is any problems the first thing to do is to try to identify the cause of such a problem and then seek possible remedies to it because “a problem, once identified, is almost solved” Many factors are responsible for spelling errors among Nigerian secondary school students which make it difficult for them to resolve independently spelling problems. These factors are as follows:

i.            Complex nature and illogicality of the English language for example – different sounds or tones are given to the same letter or combination as in:- Head/hed/j Bread/bred/.

ii.          Some words of English language are not spelt as pronounced because in English language, there is no sound to letter correspondence. One factor responsible for this is that English words contain prefixes mostly derived from prepositions  in French, latin   and Greek. Thus the poor Nigerian secondary school students who did not study either latin or Greek find themselves in difficult situations.


The objectives of the study are;

1.   To ascertain the problem of spelling errors among Nigerian secondary school students and its effects on their general performance in English language

2.   To ascertain whether spelling necessary in the teaching and learning of English language

3.   To examine what is responsible for poor spelling among Nigerian secondary school student

4.   To ascertain the  possible remedies can be establish to spelling errors


For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher; 

H0:     there is no problem of spelling errors among Nigerian secondary school students and its effects on their general performance in English language

H1:   there is problem of spelling errors among Nigerian secondary school students and its effects on their general performance in English language

H02:  there are no possible remedies can be establish to spelling errors

H2:  there are possible remedies can be establish to spelling errors


Really, it is a personal experience and concern that motivated me to research into the problem of spelling errors among Nigerian secondary school students; I was a secondary school student myself and participated in teaching practice. Judging from the importance of correct spelling and other related issues (like effects of errors in spelling on students’ general performance) there is therefore the justification and necessity to look into the problems which student encounter in spelling English words correctly. The possible remedies which this study will high light will shed light on ways and means of tackling the problem of spelling errors among Nigerian secondary school students.

Therefore, the findings of this report will provide useful information to students, teachers, and curriculum planners as well as the whole community since the society is part and parcel of the curriculum process.

To curriculum designers, this report will be a guide on how to plan and effective spelling programme for our secondary school as well as providing a frame work for.

1)          Examining and describing the spelling performance of Nigerian secondary school students.

2)          Discussing the role of readiness and spelling assessing the case of poor students.

3)          Presenting a detailed assessment of the role of spelling rules in an effective spelling programme.

4)          Assessing the importance of good methodology in teaching of spelling in Nigerian secondary school.

The findings of this report will be generally useful to everybody since spelling errors is not a problem of students alone but has a vicious cycle- secondary schools, higher institutions, community and if such a problem is rampant in any educational system the parent get concerned and then lay blames on the teachers and curriculum   planners. The government itself is not spared.


The scope of the study covers spelling errors among Nigeria secondary school students effect on their performance as possible remedies. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

 a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study   

b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities  


 SPELLING ERROR: Spelling error definition: an error in the conventionally accepted form of spelling a word | Meaning, pronunciation, translations and examples.

REMEDY: to cure, relieve, or heal. to restore to the natural or proper condition; put right: to remedy a matter. to counteract or remove: to remedy an evil.

PERFORMANCE: Performance is completion of a task with application of knowledge, skills and abilities. In work place, performance or job performance means good ranking with the hypothesized conception of requirements


This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study   

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